An easy way to visualize the wind chill-frostbite relationship

Below is a table shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that visualizes how higher winds increase the danger of frostbite.

Frostbite table - CDC

For me, the table reinforces the importance of monitoring wind just as much as temperature during cold months. Add a little wind to 0ºF and your risk of frostbite goes from low to happening within 30 minutes. Add a little wind to -10ºF, and you’re in the 10-minutes-til-frostbite range.

Even after this polar vortex passes, be careful out there and stay warm.

Find more information from the CDC here: Outdoor Winter Safety

Read a little more about cold weather safety in this article I wrote for Travelers Today: How to Weather the Polar Vortex Without Losing a Body Part


Hibernation: a cure and a quest

Up north, winter is the season of low temperatures, white landscapes, and survival strategies. For many animals that means migration, why hunker down when there’s warmth a few hundred miles south? But some animals enlist another strategy, something I’d like to on the coldest, darkest days: hibernation.

In warm months, hibernating animals function much like we do; they eat, drink, use energy, and urinate/defecate. But once they go into hibernation, they stop doing all of those things for 5-7 months. Their metabolic rates drop to 25%, or even 2% in some cases, of what they normally are (Tøien et al. 906). And even though scientists have studied hibernating animals for decades, we still don’t know how they pull off such a feat.

Scientists aren’t drawn by curiosity alone to know how bears, bats, lemurs and more can survive a several month slumber. There are potential advances for osteoporosis and muscle atrophy prevention at the root of many hibernations studies, especially studies about bears. Because, even though bears experience “long-term anorexia and limited mobility,” their muscles are still strong and functional and their bones don’t lose density, in fact they may get even stronger (Lohuis et al. 257).

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